Australia: Inquiry Hears Religion Cannot Back Inequality or Violence

Australia Inequality Violence

In cases of family violence in Australia, religious groups should not be allowed to endorse the idea that men are superior to women, heard a recent inquiry. Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence heard earlier this month how religion has been used to justify violence against women or gender inequality in the country.

“In Australia we seem to be completely silent about that,” said Joumanah El Matrah of the Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights.

She also said that authorities were failing to engage with victims of family violence by giving too much power and leaving too much decision in the hands of religious leaders.

Matrah explained that the current situation tends to sideline the problem of spiritual abuse and pit one religious group against another.

“At the moment what you have is men who promote Islam having one particular view to women and violence, and Western culture having another view to women and their experience of violence,” Matrah said.

She also noted that the prevailing practice has caused Muslim leaders and believers to have an apathetic approach towards life in Australian society. While most of them refuse to give up their religious views just to fit into society, it is equally difficult to monitor the advice they offer one another in private spaces.

“While religious leaders may not agree with violence against women, a great number of religious leaders do see men and women as unequal,”Matrah said. “Unless that shifts, no amount of support to eradicate violence is going to work.”

The advocacy group wrote in its submission that the introduction of anti-terrorism laws in the country had also caused victims of family violence too feel afraid of contacting authorities to seek protection. 

“This has developed into apprehensiveness about the Australian legal system and a mistrust of both government and the legal system,” it said.

Photo Credits: SBS

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